Novak Djokovic's bid to win an 18th Grand Slam singles title will continue on Monday when he takes on 24-year-old Russian Karen Khachanov in the fourth round of the French Open. Djokovic scored a comfortable 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 win over Daniel Galan on Saturday and has looked in blistering form so far, dropping only 15 games in his first three rounds.
However, Novak Djokovic should expect a tougher match in his next round - from Karen Khachanov. The Russian has one win in four career meetings against the Serb but this will be their first meeting on clay.
Khachanov is seeded 15th in Paris and has had a much tougher path to the last 16 - needing four sets each to beat Jiri Vesely and the 20th seed Cristian Garin on the way.
A major talking point in the first week has been the weather conditions in Paris, and Khachanov also feels that heavier conditions equalize the chances for all players, and favor Novak Djokovic a lot more than rival Rafael Nadal.
“Given the conditions, indeed, it equalizes the chances for all the players. It helps some players," Khachanov said. "These players feel less of the effects given to the balls, we play more in the court. I don't play like that on clay, but for a lot of players, it helps them. Usually, heavy conditions suit him (Djokovic) better than Rafa. We know, there is no secret. Even before, when it rains, we know that it is more difficult for Rafa than for Novak.”
Karen Khachanov says self-belief is the most important thing ahead of his fourth-round clash against Novak Djokovic
The Russian also believes that one of the keys to him winning against Novak Djokovic will be having self-belief in himself.
"I think, first of all, to try to maintain the level needed for the most time possible. I think the most important thing for me to stay steady, to believe in myself, to believe in the game that I'm playing," Khachanov said.
The Russian went on to shower praise on Djokovic, asserting that beating the Serb requires immense mental strength.
"He's playing good on all surfaces. He proved it many times," Khachanov said. "I'm just taking it one match at a time, try to show my best. I will fight for sure every point. I think I put everything together, my mind, mentality, game-wise. At the end of the day, it's all about emotions and how you deal with them during every match.”
One thing that would help Khachanov is the fact that his one previous win over Novak Djokovic came in Paris - the final of the Paris Masters in 2018.
“Every new match is a new challenge, a new opportunity. Maybe mentally you know that you beat him in this particular match, for sure it gives you the confidence inside to know that you've done it already once at least," Khachanov said.Published 04 Oct 2020, 18:35 IST